Sarah Palin owned the Republican National Convention. Now, American consumers want to own a piece of candidate ---one button, t-shirt or sticker at a time.
It seems McCain’s surprise VP pick has inspired an industry all her own, Internet marketplaces are suddenly stocked with Sarah Palin-themed swag.
The political t-shirt mill, Cafépress.com, now offers close to 4,000 Palin items (such as the “I Want To Be Palin’s Intern” bumper sticker and the “VPILF” t shirt.) Amazon is sold out of her biography and individuals are cashing in on classified and auction sites.
One poster on the Alaska Craigslist asks $18,000 for Palin-esque domain names such as sarahpalinforvp.org. A search on eBay reveals hundreds of Palin items as well---ranging from coffee mugs with her likeness to the February 2008 edition Alaska Magazine with “America’s Hottest Governor” on the cover (starting at $46.99). Some items, such as a Sarah Palin thong and altered photos of the candidate might not sit as well with her conservative base as say, the magnet spoofing Rosie the Riveter.
There is some evidence that Palin’s newfound celebrity may rival that of the Dem’s torch-bearer. Amazon.com this week reports that Palin’s biography, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down is outselling Obama’s book Audacity of Hope; Palin sits at 13 on the Amazon sales list, while Obama is No. 26; despite the fact that only 7,000 copies were originally printed.
And it’s not just merchandise.
The week after her announcement Google searches for Palin-related topics far outpaced those for McCain, Obama and Biden---combined. Google analytics says there were nearly twice as many hits for Palin as there were for the week’s other big news event, hurricane Gustav. A search for Palin on Youtube returns more than 17,000 hits and there are more than 500 Facebook groups dedicated to the erstwhile unknown.
According to Hitwise.com, a web-audience tracking firm, Palin drew 45 percent more searches than Obama in the week after her candidacy was announced. Top search terms included “Palin Vice President”, "Vogue Magazine" and “Sarah Palin Bikini” as well as searches for the veep candidate’s daughter “Bristol Palin” and her much publicized pregnancy.
More traditional media metrics also support her popularity. According to Nielsen figures more than 37 million viewers tuned in Wednesday to watch her accept the Republican Party’s nomination, just shy of the record 38.4 million who tuned in to see Obama the week before and far more than the 25.9 million who watched Sen. Hillary Clinton’s unity speech. More Americans watched the relatively unknown governor than saw the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing.
The McCain campaign reported $1 million in campaign donations after Palin’s convention appearance.
The Republicans aren’t the only ones to benefit from Palin-mania, however. The Obama campaign said it raised a one-day-record $10 million after Palin’s blistering acceptance speech.